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Midfielder McCann knows how much derby day means to fans
CHRIS McCann is one of the longest serving current Clarets.
In the time the 25-year-old has been at the club as boy and man there have been four meetings between Burnley and Blackburn Rovers.
Yet Sunday will be the midfielder’s first.
McCann was in the second year of his youth scholarship after arriving from Dublin club Home Farm when the clubs were drawn together in the FA Cup in 2005, with the Clarets earning a replay after a goalless draw at Turf Moor.
McCann helped Burnley clinch promotion to the Premier League in 2009, prompting a re-match the following season, but missed out on the derby duels through injury.
He is braced for battle now, and admits the players are driven to do it for the fans as much as themselves.
“To be honest I think it’s more of a buzz for the town,” said McCann.
“For us it’s another game we’ve got to go into thinking we can win. We can’t get overawed by the whole occasion.
“Everyone’s coming up to you in the street talking about the game and it’s in the papers but it’s a game for the fans more than a game for the players.
“We know we have a job to do. We’d love to give the fans the win for the bragging rights. But at the end of the day it’s just another football match that we want to go and win.
“Although it's a massive derby we want to take the points and let the fans have all the joy at the end of it.”
Burnley are without a homegrown player following the summer sale of Jay Rodriguez to Southampton. But in McCann, who was just 16 when he left his Dublin home to start his life in Burnley, they have the next best thing.
“I’m still a Dublin boy, but ever since I came here I’ve been welcomed really well,” he added.
“I’ve met some nice people around the town and some good people as well. You see how much the club means to the people of this town and how much a result will mean to them on Sunday more than anything else.”
But McCann admits that no matter the length of time a player has been at the club, the fans have left none of them in any doubt as to the significance the game holds in the town.
“We had Beasty’s (Brian Jensen’s) testimonial event last week and the only thing people could talk about was the Blackburn game.
“It’s the first thing on everybody’s mind,” said the 25-year-old, who has been at the club almost as long as goalkeeper Jensen.
And he has never forgotten sampling this Lancashire hotpot for the first time from the sidelines.
“The first time I watched a derby I was a ball boy and Robbie Savage was still playing for Blackburn,” he recalled.
“You’re thinking ‘this is a massive, massive thing’.
“People underestimate how big it is, especially for the people of Burnley.
“You walk around the town and the first thing they say is ‘we can't wait to play Blackburn’.
“You see how much it means to them, so you don’t want to disappoint anybody or let anybody down.
“Some people in the town I think would say rest your main squad for 44 games and just play the two games, but obviously you can’t do that.”
But McCann is gunning to end a naer 34-year wait for a Burnley win.
“I know I said it’s just another game for us, but we’d like to win it for the fans to give them something to shout about,” he added.
“You don’t get these derbies coming around all the time. You just really want to go out there and do your best.
“Hopefully they don't have to wait any longer for that win and we can give it to them on Sunday.”
He added: “More than anything else it’s just about putting in a performance and I think everything else will follow suit.
“Everybody’s looking forward to it and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves and do everybody justice.
“If we keep playing the way we’re playing I can’t see anything bad happening to us on Sunday.
“I think it will only be a positive thing that will come out of the result.”
And having beaten Bolton and Blackpool in the earlier Lancashire derbies this season, McCann feels the omens are in their favour.
“It’s two out of two in the derbies now so it would be nice to do all three of them,” he smiled.
“It’s going to be a difficult game. They’ve got some really good players and are playing all right themselves, and they’ve got a new manager as well.
“It’s going to be a tough game, we’ll make no bones about that, but I think if we go into it full of confidence and playing like we can play they’re not going to be in for an easy afternoon.”
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